US researchers developing 3D food printer

Scientists are developing a three dimensional (3D) food printer that would fabricate edible items through computer guided software and and cook edible pastes, gels, powders, and liquid ingredients all in a prototype that looks like an elegant coffee machine.

"Food printers are not meant to replace conventional cooking.They will not solve all of our nutritional needs, nor cook everything we should eat," said Hod Lipson from Columbia University in the US. "But they will produce an infinite variety of customised fresh, nutritional foods on demand, transforming digital recipes and basic ingredients supplied in frozen cartridges into healthy dishes that can supplement our daily intake," said Lipson, reported.

"I think this is the missing link that will bring the benefits of personalised data-driven health to our kitchen tables -it is the 'killer app' of 3D printing ," he added. The printer comes fitted with robotic arm that holds eight slots for frozen food cartridges. Researchers would now incorporate an infrared heating element into the arm.

According to Lipson, 3D printing, a universal technology could potentially revolutionise lives by enabling humans to design and manufacture things with unprecedented freedom. "If we can leverage this technology to allow artificial intelligence tools to design and create new things for us, we can achieve immeasurable potential," said Lipson.

Lipson and his team are collaborating with New York's International Culinary Center (ICC) to create new kinds of food with a focus on textures, combinations and arrangements of ingredients that are not currently in the available cuisines.

Hervé Malivert, ICC's director of food tech, said: ''These printers improve, it will be exciting to see where we can go with these machines. For instance, I think they will be very useful in the area of health and nutrition, especially in nursing homes and hospitals,'' PTI reported.